HOUSTON — Houston voters are several months away from the election to choose the next mayor, but candidates are already positioning themselves and raising historic amounts of money for their campaigns.
The race has proven that it’s going to be competitive and that means money will be key to getting their message out.
“Money matters a lot,” University of Houston political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus said.
In one of the largest growing cities in the country, candidates will need to begin building out messaging early to attract voters.
“It’s a big city, there are a lot of voters and they’re a lot of new voters. That’s a tough nut to crack for campaigns because you’ve got to be able to spend money to get at those voters," Rottinghaus said.
In 2022, four candidates for mayor raised more than $1 million each.
Former Harris County interim clerk Chris Hollins, a Democrat, raised $1.6 million.
His campaign said they broke a record for the number of donors, total contributions, and small-dollar contributions.
Democratic state Senator John Whitmire and Amanda Edwards, a former at large council member and US Senate candidate, each raised $1.3 million.
“Candidates with a unique voice are going to get a lot more attention and voters and donors like to see momentum,” Rottinghaus said.
Houston attorney Lee Kaplan also raised $1.3 million.
Political insiders said the early fundraising points to the interest and highly competitive position candidates are in.
“The candidates who are able to network really well, who’ve got a base of support are the candidates who are going to raise a lot more money,” Rottinghaus said.
Texas Sen. Whitmire said along with the $1.3 million he's raised so far, he has $10 million cash on hand from his other race.
City ordinance says he may use some of the dollars for his campaign for mayor, but political experts say it remains unclear absent litigation how much money could be moved over.
One of the major sources of spending will be on television ads, which are typically the most expensive.
Election day is November 7.
Candidate Chris Hollins has issued the following statement:
“When I declared my candidacy for mayor, I aspired to run a people-powered campaign that everyday Houstonians can see themselves in and be proud of. The historic number of individual contributions and local endorsements pouring into our campaign prove that we’re accomplishing this goal,” said Hollins. “I’m humbled by the grassroots support our campaign has generated in a short time, and look forward to continuing to expand our diverse coalition.”
State Sen. John Whitmire also issued a statement:
“I am so very grateful for the support shown for my campaign for mayor from so many Houstonians. Raising over $1.1 million in 30 days shows that we will have the resources to run a vigorous campaign reaching out to all Houstonians.”
KHOU 11 has also reached out to candidates Lee Kaplan and Amanda Edwards. We have not heard back.